Visiting my sponsored children brought the photos to life

Brian went on a four-country journey to visit his four sponsored children, and he says it's the best thing he's ever done.

Meeting his four sponsored children gave Brian a new lease on life.

Pictures may tell a thousand words, but experience speaks volumes. This is the view of Brian, a pensioner in New South Wales who visited four different countries to visit his four sponsored children.

“You look at a photograph, and that’s one thing. But if you meet a person face to face, then you see it for real,” he says.

When Brian received a Christmas appeal from World Vision four years ago, he was moved by the need in so many areas of the world. Particularly striking to him was how many young girls were disadvantaged in their opportunities for education and how they needed support to meet their full potential. So Brian signed up to sponsor Linda (Zambia), followed by Renuka (Sri Lanka). Later that year, he started sponsoring Christina (Tanzania) and Maya (India).

Brian was delighted to receive mail from the girls and see how his contribution was supporting their community. He felt how he was making a difference to these young girls. But he began to feel that letters couldn’t substitute for seeing the girls and their world for himself.

This was when he renewed his passport and began making plans to travel to Zambia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and India.

Brian in Tanzania with Christina, and in India with Maya.

This visit was the best thing I’ve ever done.

Each visit was deeply meaningful for Brian.

Over two trips in May 2015 and 2016, Brian met each of his sponsored children. He was showered with flowers in India as Maya’s village welcomed him. In Zambia, he had a go at brick-laying with the community. Renuka’s family shared breakfast with him in Sri Lanka, and Brian felt his visit was all too short. Tanzania, where he met Christina, was his favourite destination, and he hopes to return one day. Villagers were often touched that Brian had travelled so far to see their home.

Brian came bearing gifts (a cricket set for Maya and her friends in India was a highlight), and he received gifts in return. But that wasn’t where the value of the travel was for Brian. “Meeting the people, learning the culture, seeing how they live… I’ll never forget it,” he says.

Each girl had her own dreams for their future, and now they had support to help them achieve it. “Two [of the girls] want to be teachers, one wants to be a nurse,” Brian says. His hope of supporting their education was being realised.

He couldn’t speak highly enough of his travels.

 

Please, if you’re thinking of sponsoring a child, go for it. It’s something you’ll never forget.

Now that he’s home, Brian receives mail from his sponsored children with a deeper knowledge of their lives and homes. “I get mail from the four girls, and they send me photos and school reports,” he says. “It’s good to see that they’re getting education and they’ve got fresh, clean water – that’s great.”

Brian already felt that sponsoring the four girls had given him a new lease on life, but travel to meet each girl enhanced his understanding of their world.

Was the amount of travel worth it? Brian has no doubt of it. Experiencing the girls’ community and sharing their culture gave him insight like nothing else could.

“A photograph is nothing compared to face-to-face,” he says. “If you go to where they live and you live their lifestyle, then when you come back, you can look at a photo and you’re back living with them.”

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